With the growing obesity epidemic, NAFLD is now believed
to be the most common liver disease worldwide, affecting an estimated 10
percent of children and one-third of adults in the United States alone. The
most severe form of NAFLD, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) affects 2-3
percent of all adults and children, but is found in approximately 25 percent of
children who have fatty liver. Up to one-quarter of patients with NASH may go
on to more severe fibrosis, cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease.
NASH is currently the
third leading cause of liver transplantation in adults in the United States, and severe scarring
(cirrhosis) can begin to develop in childhood and adolescence. Therefore, our goal is to identify children
and adolescents at risk for NAFLD and NASH to prevent the progression to cirrhosis
and end-stage liver disease. The majority of patients with
pediatric NAFLD or NASH are overweight or obese, and many have associated
health problems, such as insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, obstructive
sleep apnea, hypertension and dyslipidemia (features of metabolic syndrome). Achieving a healthier weight through better diet
and increased activity can be very successful in improving or resolving
NALFLD / NASH. Other treatments are also
being evaluated in clinical studies funded by the National Institutes of Health.
How We're Different
Our core multidisciplinary team includes physicians with expertise in hepatology and pediatric weight management, as well as experienced nurse managers and registered dietitians.
- We use state-of-the-art protocols to evaluate patients for other potential causes of chronic hepatitis and confirm the presence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH); these include our pioneering use of magnetic resonance elastography to detect clinically significant fibrosis in children with chronic liver disease.
- We comprehensively screen for closely-related comorbid conditions -— including diabetes mellitus type 2, obstructive sleep apnea, dyslipidemias, gallstones and hypertension —- so these conditions can be effectively managed.
- Rigorously tracked outcomes have shown that our clinical program results in significant mean improvements in liver enzyme levels and body mass indices after one year of participation.
- We are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded NASH Clinical Research Network, providing access to innovative multi-center studies and clinical trials.
Cutting-edge research and trials: